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DEMOCRATIC VICTORY TASK FORCE

FROM THE TASK FORCE


WE BELIEVE THAT THE PEOPLE ARE THE SOURCE OF ALL
GOVERNMENTAL POWER; THAT THE AUTHORITY OF THE
PEOPLE IS TO BE EXTENDED, NOT RESTRICTED. THIS CAN BE
ACCOMPLISHED ONLY BY PROVIDING EACH CITIZEN WITH
EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE MANAGEMENT
OF THE GOVERNMENT. THEY MUST HAVE THAT, WE BELIEVE.
- BARBARA JORDAN- WHO THEN WILL SPEAK FOR
THE COMMON GOOD? NEW YORK, JULY 12, 1976

As Democrats, we believe in an economy where hard work is rewarded, where everyone pays his or her fair
share and plays by the rules. We believe in a government thats focused on building a stronger and more
secure middle class, with good-paying jobs, affordable higher education, and a secure retirement.
The Democratic Party historically has grounded itself with the peoplethe great majority of hard-working
citizens from every background.
As the Great Commoner, Williams Jennings Bryan, said, There are two ideas of government. There are
those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well to do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak
through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous
their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.
Ultimately, safeguarding the prosperity of the vast middle class helps to enrich and encourage those at
either end of the economic spectrum. A thriving middle-class creates a vibrant economy that benefits the
highest earners. The upper economic tiers can reach the highest rungs of success without pulling up the
ladder behind them. And middle-class success opens opportunities and provides a framework for those
currently at the bottom of the economic ladder to lift them up.
We believe that the best way to allow and encourage all Americans to participate in economic growth
and prosperity is to allow and encourage them to participate in the processes of governing. We are and
will continue to be the party that believes our country is strongest when every citizen has a chance to
contribute at the grassroots level. Because strong unions provide a path towards middle class prosperity
and because working Americans deserve a voice on their jobs and in their communities, we support the
rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively.
We are and will always be the party of the people. And we believe that economic and political wellbeing
goes hand-in-hand.
Guided by these convictions and commitments, Democrats have promoted economic policies that have
equipped empowered growing numbers of Americans to build and benefit from a shared prosperity.
Over the past eight decades, Democrats enacted Social Security, Fair Labor Standards, unemployment
insurance, workers compensation, the GI Bill, Medicare, Medicaid, college student assistance, and other
progressive programs, including, most recently, national healthcare reform.

Now, our country confronts the question that President Obama has posed: Will we accept an economy
where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates
rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?
Once again, as at every moment of economic change throughout our history, Democrats believe this
country must take bold action to adapt to new circumstances, ensuring that everyone gets a fair shot. We
must offer our citizens opportunities for college education and career training, infrastructure and the
internet tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them. Thats what middle-class economics
is the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share,
and everyone plays by the same set of rules. We dont just want everyone to share in Americas success we
want everyone to contribute to our success.
As we continue on in the 21st century, the focus of the Democratic Party must at every level from the
smallest towns council to the Presidency of the United States be to provide every citizen with the
opportunity to participate in government and create a national party from the bottom up, rather than top
down. We believe that both prosperity and political power thrive best when they grow organically from
below instead of being imposed from above.
As President Barack Obama stated in his most recent the State of the Union address...for all our blind
spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to
unite in common effort, to help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.
I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that were
a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen -- man and woman, young and old, black and
white, Latino, Asian, immigrant, Native American, gay, straight, Americans with mental illness or physical
disability. Everybody matters. I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still
know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United
States of America.
The national Democratic Party must never allow itself to become a party of Beltway consultants who
routinely recommend cookie-cutter campaigns that are detached from the concerns of the people we
hope to represent, at the city, state, and federal level. In order to consistently win on every level, we have
to reconnect with the reason we want to winand that reason is the people. The national party must work
with and help grow state and local parties, to empower the people to participate in politics, while recruiting
and training the next generation of office holders. Democrats must stand for the right of all eligible
Americans to be able to register, to vote, and to have their vote counted fairly and accurately.
The Democratic Party must field candidates everywhere to ensure our message is heard everywhere. The
national party needs to strengthen our state and local affiliates, revitalize our grassroots allies and broaden
our appeal to stakeholders and others who assist us in elections. Our focus is not just on the presidential
election cycles, but also elections for the US House and Senate as well as state and local offices, including
midterm and special elections.
We need to speak directly, in ways that make sense and move people to action, addressing the broad,
diverse group of Americans that are receptive to the Democratic Partys message of shared opportunity and
prosperity for all Americans.
We know that our message is powerful because our opponents are trying to steal it. Income inequality and
the resulting middleclass economic stagnation have become so extreme that even the Republicans are
giving lip service to economic fairnesseven as they advocate policies that would undermine it.
That is one more reason why we as Democrats must remind voters that fighting for advancement and
abundance for all the people has always been our core principle.
The Democratic Party is ready for this task ahead.

THE DEMOCRATIC VICTORY TASK FORCE


Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, immediately following the
November 2014 elections, appointed the Democratic Victory Task Force.
The mission of the task force is simple: Examine the last several election cycles by soliciting actionable
ideas from the entire Democratic family as to how we can improve the long-term strength of the national
Democratic Party.
The Task Force has been instructed to be as inclusive as possible to all points of view, constituencies,
and approaches to ensure that the Task Force has a clear set of recommendations as to how we can
better define the DNCs role, strengthen the Party at the national, state, and local levels, and ultimately set
Democrats up for electoral successes.
The members of the Task Force are:

Naomi Aberly, Vice Chair of the DNCs National Finance Committee and Advisory Board Co-Chair
of Organizing for Action

Donna Brazile, Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee

Governor Steve Beshear, Governor of Kentucky

Maria Cardona, Principal, Dewey Square Group

Marc Elias, Chair, Perkins Coie Political Law Group

Teddy Goff, Partner, Precision Strategies

Maneesh Goyal, President, MKG

Rick Palacio, Chairman of the Colorado Democratic Party

Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME

Eric Schmidt, Chair, Google

Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congresswoman, Chairwoman of the Democratic
National Committee (Ex-Officio)
The Task Force met consistently between late November and February to look at factors that have
contributed to our losses in midterm elections.
During this time, the Task Force met with experts in a variety of categories including message and research
development, targeting and voter mobilization, voter advocacy and community building. Together the
Task Force has met with hundreds of people involved in politics including elected officials, candidates,
campaign managers, general consultants, academics, donors and, probably most importantly, activists and
voters across the country.
The Democratic National Committee conducted a post-election poll with 100,000 of its supporters. The
Chairwoman met with every Congressional Caucus and members of the Task Force met with groups in
their respective fields of expertise. The Association of State Democratic Chairs conducted a survey of its
membership and each of the campaign committees the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee,
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Governors Association and the Democratic
Legislative Campaign Committee all contributed research and information to this Task Force.
The work spanned the Democratic Party, reaching into all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the
territories and Democrats Abroad. The Task Force looked at all the factors that go into building, running
and winning political campaigns in America.

STRENGTHENING THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY


It is clear that Americans overwhelmingly support the people and issues that the Democratic Party
fights for every day. Our work in support of equality in all areas personal, wage, marriage, justice was
endorsed by Americans when they supported ballot measure after ballot measure that were focused on
ensuring that this is a country for all.
We have suffered devastating losses at all levels of government since 2008 including:

- 69 House Seats

- 13 Senate Seats

- 910 State Legislative Seats

- 30 State Legislative Chambers

- 11 Governorships
Yet we know how to win elections. Elections in 2006, 2008, 2012 and ballot initiatives and other races
this last cycle demonstrate that our issues and candidates resonate with voters. Through its examination
of the last several election cycles, the Democratic Victory Task Force has identified areas for the DNC to
strengthen its work and win elections in both presidential and midterm elections including:












Having a clear, values-based narrative that unites us as Democrats and engages and appeals to the
broadest swath possible of the American electorate.
Creating strong accountable partnerships with active Democrats and all those who share our values
in all 57 states and territories and Democrats Abroad.
Proactively protecting and expanding every Americans right to vote.
Building a three-election strategy for redistricting at the state and federal level.
Identifying and promoting the next generation of Democratic leaders, including citizen activists
from a cross-section of backgrounds and walks of life.

Over the next three months, the Task Force will continue to meet on a regular basis and it will commission
additional research in each of these areas and develop action plans with the goal of having several pilot
programs in place for the 2015 elections.
The Task Force will also take an in-depth look at other areas including how we:

Build relationships with Americans that motivate them and mobilize them to vote.

Resource the tools and tactics needed to communicate in the 21st Century in every community
speaking and fighting for their values year-in and year-out.

Build an accessible and open party where all are and feel welcome, and where their voices are
heard, their values are respected, and their experiences are understood.
In May of 2015 the Task Force in partnership with the Democratic National Committee will release a
strategic plan to guide the Partys efforts through the 2022 elections.

DEMOCRATIC VICTORY
TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS
The Task Force has identified several areas where it is clear that the DNC has a strong role and
responsibility and where it must start work today.

CREATE A VALUES BASED NARRATIVE

No area of this review caused more debate or solicited more ideas than the belief that there is no single
narrative that unites all of our work and the issues that we care about as a community of Democrats. It is
strongly believed that the Democratic Party is loosely understood as a long list of policy statements and not
as people with a common set of core values (fairness, equality, opportunity). This lack of cohesive narrative
impedes the partys ability to develop and maintain a lifelong dialogue and partnership with voters.
The Task Force recommends creating a National Narrative Project to work with party leaders,
activists, and messaging and narrative experts to create a strong values-based national narrative
that will engage, inspire and motivate voters to identify with and support Democrats.

STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIPS WITH STATE PARTIES

The Task Force recognizes that the Democratic Party and the DNC are only as strong as state and local
Democratic organizations. We want each individual state party including all 57 states, territories and
the District of Columbia and Democrats Abroad to be effective, productive, inclusive and exciting
organizations. This is the only way to build a powerful and successful national party. The Task Force also
recognizes that in presidential cycles the focus of time, resources and talent has been in key battleground
states. The DNC must recommit to efforts to strengthen all state parties to ensure wins at local, state and
federal level across election cycles.
The Task Force recommends working with State Parties to build partnership agreements that
include training, evaluation, metrics, and incentives and that are focused on ensuring that every
State Party is on a pathway to self-sustainability. It is imperative that these partnerships be rooted
in a commonly understood set of standards and that there is transparency and accountability
related to shared resources that are dedicated to professionalizing state parties and designing and
implementing winning campaigns at the state, local and federal levels.

PROTECTING AND EXPANDING THE RIGHT VOTE

In the last several years the Republicans have implemented an aggressive strategy to make it more difficult
to register and exercise the right to vote. These barriers have been erected via legislation, administrative
rules, and litigation. Democrats must stand for the right of all eligible Americans to be able to register to
vote, cast their ballot and have their ballot counted, without exception.
The Task Force recommends the development of an aggressive, multi-faceted legislative and
legal strategy to ensure every eligible American is registered to vote, has access to the polls and
has their ballot counted. It should feature building support for an explicit right to vote in the U.S.
Constitution and a new law to revive the preclearance powers of the Voting Rights Act. It also should
include fighting for full implementation of existing registration and voting laws, including the VRA,
NVRA and HAVA and developing a strategy to pass federal, state and local laws to modernize voter
registration modernization, expand access to the polls, eliminate long lines; and ensure that all
eligible voters have their balloted counted. Finally, it requires the expansion of professionalized
election protection legal teams across the county and development of a plan in conjunction with our
allies to register voters across the country within the current boundaries that exist today.

THREE-CYCLE REDISTRICTING PLAN

The current GOP stranglehold on state houses, governorships and congressional seats is a by-product of
more than 30 years of organizing, fostering talent and significant financial investments at the state and
local level. The DNC must develop and accelerate programs at the state and local level to ensure that the
next redistricting and reapportionment projects encourage Democratic growth.
The Task Force recommends that the DNC along with the Democratic family of organizations,
state parties and allied organizations create and resource a three-cycle plan that targets and wins
back legislative chambers in order to prepare for redistricting efforts. This long-term effort must be
aggressive and focused on winning elections at the state and local level. It must also support efforts
to take back the House of Representatives.

BUILD THE DEMOCRATIC BENCH

The Party needs to increase the number of Democrats running and winning their elections at all levels. In
order to do this we need to get people in all communities excited about the opportunities present when
you get deeply involved in your community and prepare them for the challenges of running for office.
The Task Force recommends that the DNC play a proactive role in helping identify, train and
foster the next generation of Democratic leaders, especially at the state level. This includes
potential candidates, campaign staff and advisors, and activists and volunteers with ties to
different communities.

AREAS FOR FURTHER REVIEW


The Task Force will continue to meet through May 2015. As part of its ongoing work, the Task Force
will oversee the implementation of its initial recommendations and initiate additional listening
sessions, outreach to key constituencies and initiate research into several additional areas.

ENGAGE, MOTIVATE AND MOBILIZE THE VOTE

Throughout the review, the DNC heard that it and all of the party committees need to do a better job
of communicating with voters over the long term and not just in the weeks leading up to the election. The
Task Force recommends a comprehensive study of voter contact programs to ensure that consultants
and campaign staff are developing balanced voter education and mobilization programs that focus on the
highest quality communications and interactions with the largest number of voters.

CREATING AN ACCESSIBLE AND OPEN PARTY

Throughout the process, the Task Force has heard from the very people who work for and vote for
Democratic candidates that the Democratic National Committee (as well as campaign committees and
state parties) is not as open or as accessible to all members and voters as it should be. This focus area
identified in the member survey, regional meetings and individual interviews requires a thorough review
of staffing structures, contracting policies and party policies and procedures. The Task Force recommends
the DNC conduct this review to ensure that the DNCs staffing, policies and procedures result in a national
party that is reflective of the people and views it represents.

COMMUNICATING IN THE 21ST CENTURY

For several cycles, the DNC has lacked the necessary resources to make significant investments in paid
communications in states, specialty media or digital communications. Immediately following the 2014
elections, the DNC has hired new communications staff and is developing new strategies to reach diverse
communities. Working with these staff and marketing and media experts, the Task Force recommends
the development of strategic communications plans that cover national, state and specialty markets. The

Task Force also recommends the development of digital communications strategies and tools that will help
reach voters that arent accessible through traditional channels.

BUILDING A BROAD COALITION OF VOTERS

In order to win elections, the Democratic Party must reclaim voters that weve lost including white
Southern voters, excite key constituencies such as African American women and Latinas, and mobilize
the broadest coalition of voters possible to not only recapture state houses but also Congress. In order to
better understand how to bring this large coalition together, the Task Force recommends - in tandem with
the National Narrative Project that the DNCs research delve more deeply into the barriers that keep
people from identifying with, and supporting, Democratic candidates. This also includes working to better
understand drop off and independent voters.

CONCLUSION

The circumstances that led to the series of devastating electoral losses did not develop overnight. Instead
they have been building over decades as the political system has been irrevocably changed by the passage
of McCain-Feingold and the Citizens United decision. Republicans, in many cases, have been quick to
respond to these changes and take advantage of this new moneyed and murky environment.
In just under twelve weeks, the Democratic Victory Task Force has examined all aspects of the recent
election cycles and identified a number of areas for further study. This Task Forces work is only just
beginning and a full action plan including additional research, pilot programs, narrative development and
collaboration with our allies will be in place by May 2015.
This plan marks the start of our fight to reclaim state houses, win governorships, take back the House and
Senate and protect the White House. Our work has only just begun!

DEMOCRATIC VICTORY TASK FORCE